Fay Sharpe - Looking to 2017

Fay Sharpe, entrepreneur, event professional

Over 25 years’ experience in the industry and an industry expert in all things meetings and events.  Fay started her career at Hilton Hotels and went on to be a founding shareholder of Zibrant.  She is passionate about the brand and considers herself a culture guardian.  Fay regularly represents Zibrant throughout the industry at many speaker opportunities and in 2015 created Fast Forward 15, an industry wide mentoring initiative.

At the turn of the New Year, it’s undeniable that the world is in turmoil. However, through turmoil comes change, and what change brings is opportunity - especially in an industry that all about bringing people together.

 So despite the atmosphere of uncertainty, I’m personally heading into 2017 with an optimistic viewpoint. I think it’s the companies that have the positive attitude of progressiveness and forward-thinking that will be highly successful, and continue to reap the rewards in the coming year.

 There are, of course, challenges. For example

 

For example when it comes to budgets, there will undoubtedly be an impact resulting from fluctuating currencies and costs increasing in the UK.

 However, at the same time, it’s all a matter of perspective. For instance, the opportunities that arise from people bringing their events to the UK because of the weak pound is positive. People taking advantage of the exchange rate will get great value, and we will host some incredible events in return. It’s all about embracing this change and looking further afield to our global colleagues for inbound business.

 For me, the key for any live event that aims to drive our behaviour, is to focus on content and ensuring that what we deliver is exceptional. I think a lot of live event companies still prioritise the logistics and appearance of the event over what the event is actually about. I believe that, over the next year or two, we’ll see the more progressive agencies moving to prioritise content, brand messaging, and the core purpose of what they are trying to deliver. So I think there will be big shift in organisations moving away from logistics-led companies to content-led companies and agencies.

For me, the key for any live event that aims to drive our behaviour, is to focus on content and ensuring that what we deliver is exceptional.

Ensuring engagement in events will continue to be a strong trend, and that will be driven by the use of technology - but not just for technology’s sake, might I add - through things like social media and communications strategies.

Social media is something companies need to be much savvier about, moving forward. I’ve just appointed a social media company to work with us because I really believe that the investment being made in getting that right will hugely pay off down the line. I think that events companies should be willing to consider investing a decent amount of their budget in their social media, because it can be positive if managed cleverly, and damaging if handled poorly.

In 2017, Britain will start the process of leaving the European Union, but what will that change look like? We just don’t know yet. We don’t know what our European colleagues are going to agree to and as of this moment we’re not even entirely sure of the exit strategy. But in this time of uncertainty, the things we need to be mindful of are currencies and costs, but also embracing the opportunity that change brings.

Companies are still staging events and are investing money because they want value. They want to see a return on what they’re creating through the live event company that they’re using, so what we need to be doing is focusing on what the delegate takes away with them. Only then can we determine how that is likely to affect the bottom line through sales. At the end of the day, most meetings are about selling something. So if you can work in an innovative and exciting new way with a company, and demonstrate how they’re going to sell more of something, then it should be a no-brainer.

I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there are challenges ahead for us, but we mustn’t panic.  We have the potential this year to bring people together in an increasingly divided world. The fact that our currency is weak may seem problematic, but there are ways we can use it to our strengths. It makes us good value, therefore attractive to overseas business, and with all our expertise here we can embrace that, and demonstrate how we continue to be a global centre of excellence for live events.

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